NASA’s troubled microwave oven-sized spacecraft will finally reach the moon today

15th November, 2022.      //   Space Travel  // 

NASA’s troubled microwave oven-sized spacecraft will finally reach the moon today

Tonight a spacecraft larger than a microwave oven will become the first so-called “CubeSat” to orbit the Moon and the first to enter a unique orbit around it.

NASA’s path-finding Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) will launch a special type of orbit of the Moon, which NASA believes that no fuel is required.

However, it may take some time for NASA to know whether the mission is successful or not. “The Capstone team expects to take at least five days to analyze the data, perform two clean-up maneuvers and confirm the successful insertion,” the space agency said in a statement Friday.

It has been an arduous journey for the tiny spacecraft since its launch from New Zealand on June 28, 2022, atop a RocketLab Electron rocket.

Heading to the Moon at 24,500 mph/39,500 km/h, it began spinning in early September after valve issues and it was put into safe mode. However, the spacecraft is now stable.

This is to pave the way for NASA’s planned Lunar Orbital Platform—Gateway, a space station with a habitat module in lunar orbit and a port to dock NASA’s Orion spacecraft—on the first Artemis I test flight. Due to launch. Week.

Before the Artemis III mission scheduled for 2025, the “gateway” will be assembled from commercial space companies into five uncrewed flights—in which astronauts will land on the lunar surface from the orbiting space station.

Before this can happen NASA needs to make sure that the planned strange orbit for the Gateway is safe.

The capstone will trace a near-rectilinear halo orbit that will reach an altitude of 958,000 miles from Earth—more than three times the distance between Earth and the Moon—before pulling it back toward it.

An elongated elliptical orbit at a precise equilibrium point between the Earth’s and Moon’s gravity, the odd orbit would bring the capstone to its nearest within 1,000 miles of one lunar pole and 43,500 miles from the other pole. Day.

This is necessary because it gives an unobstructed view of Earth and good coverage of the lunar South Pole, where Artemis III is scheduled to land two astronauts in 2024/2025 and, eventually, form a lunar base.

CAPSTONE—which is expected to send back data for six months—will also test a new navigation system. Instead of relying on ground stations, it will measure its position relative to NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which has been orbiting the Moon since 2009.

Owned and operated by Advanced Space and designed and built by Terran Orbital, Capstone is part of NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program.

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